Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still in peril. Huge swathes of the island are still without power, running water or access to medical care. Experts estimate that it would take years before these services are restored island-wide. Much of the blame has been placed on FEMA for a slow response in comparison to recent disasters on the mainland, but recovery from a disaster of this complexity and scale has proven more challenging than anyone anticipated, and filling the gaps between an over-extended public sector and a suffering populace falls on private citizens. Robert Anderson is a Puerto Rico resident of four years. The eye of the storm came in south of El Yunque, swept up toward San Juan, and out to Arecibo. Everything on the right-hand side is what we call the dirty side of the storm. This isn't his first time in a disaster zone. With a military and telecom background, Anderson worked on repairing damaged cell phone towers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Some might be tempted to label him a disaster capitalist, seeking lucrative government contracts for his expertise. But as Anderson finds himself in the middle of the humanitarian crisis, he and his associates are developing a variety of pro bono recovery projects that target the island's hardest hit areas. I see two Puerto Ricos. We're here in San Juan. They have telecommunications restored. They may or may not have power, but basic services are in place. They're able to get food. They're able to buy things. They're surviving. And when you look outside of the San Juan area, you can go 15 minutes from here and find areas that are devastated. I'm working on the devastated side. Today, he's put together a boots-on-the-ground mission to provide medical care to some of the island's most isolated and vulnerable residents. Steve Birmbaum is one of Anderson's business associates. He offered an extra car and a set of hands. So we received an initial report from a nurse that was out in the area. We're headed to the Northeast region of Utuado for some people that are in need of urgent medical assistance. Dr. Sally Priester is a physician from San Juan. She filled a van with medical supplies at her own expense and brought along a team of nurses. Google Maps estimated our first destination to be a 90-minute drive, but it didn't account for obstacles like this. Our first stop was the home of an 82-year-old, blind Vietnam Veteran. His roof was blown off by the storm and he's been living alone in a back shed for nearly two months. His cane actually got broken in the storm so he's limited mobility. He has a number of medical ailments. Dr. Priester's having a look at him. We called the VA. They're going to get him set up with what he needs, get him stabilized so he can then be transported either to an evacuation center or off the island. It's when the chain gets broken when those families that are connected to them leave the island or take off, these guys get left at the end of the road and it's tough. FEMA was not officially part of Robert's team and their arrival caught everyone by surprise. Their job here was to survey and report back to their superiors and did not come with medical aid of any kind. People think that FEMA is there to hand out bottles of water and that's not what they do. FEMA has a role to play. They have a very specific role. They bring in ships. They bring in airplanes. They bring in tractor trailers with pallets of things, but they're a big machine and there's gaps in that thing and you're seeing one of the gaps here, and we help fill that role. These guys were in a bad situation before and now they're struggling for real basic things. One of the risks that you run is people going from fear to hopelessness. Those are the folks that we're trying to reach. How are they reached? How are they even found? Word of mouth mostly. What's your role in all this? Ghost in the machine. I'm lucky enough to be able to communicate with folks in FEMA, the state of Puerto Rico. For a ghost, Robert makes his presence well known. Not only was he the de facto leader of the mission, now with FEMA in tow, he created his own maps to survey storm damage. We're right here. And delivered them to FEMA HQ free of charge. I have pretty good reach. Perhaps that's how he managed to earn himself a coveted FEMA badge without actually working for them. And its these relationships that allow him to operate more efficiently than an NGO or a government agency. We're able to resolve problems at a different level. That's where they are right here. Our next stop was on a mountain top, a family of 11, struggling to care for their special needs brother in what was left of their house. Probably we are the first health team to come and visit this family. The patient has Down Syndrome. He is all day in bed. The difficulty with this is the patient cannot be alone. The most important thing is that you need to take care of the chronic disease beside the disability because they have been not going to a doctor and a doctor has not coming here yet. So we need a refill of this medication. After maybe 54 days, it's not getting better. The only way that you can be able to see that is coming to the ground, drive and see the people and talk to the people. You could see San Juan from here, but you can't get there. It's like the Emerald City. On this stop, we caught word that a man living alone at the edge of a jungle was in need of care. We decided to take a little detour, come up here and check out and see what's going on. One of the challenges is to find those people that are at the end of these roads that need help. I'm asking about why he's alone right here. He says "life happens. I'm here by myself." This is not a job. If you do this, you need to have passion for what you can do. You're not going to get paid. It's said in disaster response, in emergency response that the real first responders are your neighbors. You don't need to wait for a lucrative FEMA contract to go out and do good and to help the community. In the end, do you feel like you're making a difference? The lives you touch, the people that you can affect. I don't really think about it in those terms. But why do you do it? It helps me sleep at night. I think it's as much for the people that are going out to help and do things than it is for the people that you affect. Whether out of altruism or the lure of a paid gig or some mixture of the two, Anderson hopes to stay here to help shape Puerto Rico's future. Puerto Rico's essentially been a colony for 400 years. It was treated poorly by the Spanish. It was not treated well by the United States when they first got here. Puerto Rico can continue in the way that it's always been or Puerto Rico can rebuild itself like nothing that it's ever been. and we have to do everything we can to make that real. That's the bottom line.